Devotions

Category Archives: Shareables

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor James Clouse | 
Student Pastor

Growing up at Faith Waterford was a blessing that is beyond what words can describe. Being raised a Catholic I truly never understood what salvation meant until I attended a church camp with Faith when I was 12 years old. It was the Summer of 1995 that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

From the time of 1995 to my high school years, there were many people from Faith Church who had an impact on my life including youth pastors, student leaders, and Pastor Jim. These people helped mold me into the man, the husband, the father, and the pastor that I am today. Without them, I do not believe I would be where I am at today.

In high school, on a church missions trip to Mexico, I felt a tug on my heart to ministry of some sorts. At the time I did not know how that looked. The years went by, and I felt that God had something special planned for my life.

Finally, I listened to God and His plan for my life and knew that I belonged in full-time ministry. There were many amongst the church that pushed me to pursue an education, and I kept pushing that aside. My wife Amanda and I were working with the youth group at the Waterford campus, and I knew that was where I belonged…with teenagers. I finally started pursuing what it took to become a Youth Minister. A couple of years later I graduated from Liberty University and started searching for a job. I knew that it would be only God that could uproot me from Faith.

He did just that. God moved my family to Georgia to be a Student Pastor. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; to move away from my church and my family. But I knew that God had a plan for us. While in Georgia, God taught me so much about ministry and how to be a Pastor. He taught me how to have a deeper appreciation for who He is and how He works in our lives, how to have a closer relationship with Him and how to be an effective Pastor.

Three and a half years later I received a call from The River Goodrich to be their new Student Pastor. This was a dream come true; to work for the man that I admired so much growing up. Now I know that God has so much in store for me here and I can not wait to work together to show the surrounding communities the light of Christ.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Chris Cain | 
Women’s Ministry Director

The year was 1995, and I was invited to go to church. I had been awaiting an invite. I wanted my kids in church. You see, I had been doing all of the “right” things; reading them Bible stories, praying with them, even enrolling them in a preschool that was held inside a church building.  So, now I just had to get them to church to be baptized, and that would be it, they would be set. Right?  Kind of funny how I thought it would be good for them to be in church, but not necessary for me. It was not necessary because there was no hope for me.

I was raised in a home where we went to church every Sunday. My loving parents worked hard and had solid values. Summers were filled with VBS, and for most of my childhood a Gingellville Baptist Church bus picked me up for AWANA every Monday night.  I was a good kid. But then, in 1983, at age 17, I did something that would change my world. I messed up. And I was going to straight to hell. The guilt and shame that would follow me for over a decade were overwhelming.  I hated myself. I deserved hell. There were people along the way who tried to help me. They would say, “Oh you just need to learn to forgive yourself” or “Time will heal all things” or “Do not be so hard on yourself.”

The day arrived. I managed to get myself and four kids ages three months to five years old, fed, dressed, and ready on time.  That sweet church in Waterford was so welcoming to us. They were so helpful.  I even signed up to be on the ladies’ softball team. Wow, this was exactly what I wanted for my children.   They loved it.  I loved it. Week after week we went Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, midweek services, any time that the doors were open.  This was home.

As I began to fall in love with the Word and with Jesus, I began to see that there really might be some hope for me.  Those Scriptures I had memorized as a child in AWANA started to come alive. The love and grace of Jesus were so powerful, but I still could not seem to transfer what I knew of Him and His Word into my own past circumstances and life.  Again, I heard from others, “You need to forgive yourself” or “Time heals all wounds.”  That did not make sense to me.  But it did drive me deeper into the Word.  And somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 I saw that God’s promises stand. I saw the ways He brings His promises to fulfillment and my trust in His faithfulness grew. I can stand on those promises, even when I do not understand the circumstances that seem to contradict it.  No, I did not need to forgive myself, I just had to trust in His proven faithfulness. I was determined that I was no longer going to allow my past to become greater than what Jesus did for me. I did not need time. I needed The Healer! He forgave me; He delivered me, He loves me, then and now.   

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Laura Combs | 
Wife of Pastor Jayson

September 27

The moment we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we have a calling on our lives to follow and serve Christ as our Lord and to walk in His ways. I believe, however, God was working in my life, personally, for generations. My grandmother, a God-fearing woman with “unfeigned [genuine] faith” as described in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, along with my grandfather, passed on a spiritual heritage more important than money can buy. But it did not start with her. Grandma recalled her own father, my great-grandfather, living out the words from Deuteronomy 6:4-7,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

From as young as I can remember, I was told my great-grandfather took the words from Deuteronomy to heart and prayed the following words often during bedtime devotion and prayer, “Lord, I pray for the salvation of each of my children, and their children, and their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children. Amen.” Now, if I get my “children’s children” correct, my great-grandfather prayed directly for the salvation of my mother, for me, and even for my son! Wow! How amazing! And not only did he pray for our salvation alone, but he diligently taught the Word to his own children and further passed on an importance of loving the Lord, loving His Word, and walking in His Word each and every day. I am forever grateful for the legacy of my great-grandfather, my grandmother, and my mother.

Of course, it has not always been easy. There have been significant moments and trials in my life where I had to decide for myself whether I would follow the Lord, or just ride on my families’ coattails. God’s faithfulness, however, has undoubtedly been evident. The testimonies and stories in my immediate and extended family of God’s faithfulness are simply undeniable! Their stories are His Story, and I only desire for my story to reflect His Story as well.

Consequently, I am compelled and persuaded to pray the same prayer my great-grandfather prayed. Lord, I pray for the salvation of my children, and of their children, and their children’s children, and their children’s children’s children. And further, I pray they will fall in love with God and fall in love with God’s Word. Our own flesh, the world, and the enemy will seek to destroy us. Only our faith in God and feasting on His Word will guide and direct us along the path of life. What heritage will you pass on? Do you love God’s Word? Do you want the generations after you, and even the people around you, to love God and His Word? How will you show them? What will you do?

As my grandmother also prayed, “God grant that the circle will be unbroken.” Pass on a Christian heritage that will never by broken!

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Jayson Combs | 
Family Pastor

Man, did I ever hate life. It was the first day of my freshmen year of high school. I walked into a brand new school, not knowing a single soul. That summer, I had moved from the suburbs of Detroit to what felt like the suburbs of nothing. My dad had recently retired from General Motors and became the Pastor of a very small church on the corner of a corn field. We moved from everything we knew, including friends, family, and our home church, to the small farming community of Pigeon, Michigan. The town had one stop and no fast food restaurants. The closest mall was an hour away, and my friends were two hours away. I just wanted to go back home, to all my friends and quite frankly…civilization. Man, did I ever hate my life.

For many weeks, I spent a lot of time alone. Most evenings, I would go into my basement, flip the ping pong table up and hit the ball back and forth to myself…over and over and over again. I got pretty good. Yet, it was easy for me to sit in my loneliness and ask why? Why here, God? Even though God felt a million miles away, He was still in control, and things slowly began to change.

A few weeks into that school year, I found a group of kids that seemed pretty cool. Some of them went to a small Mennonite church, and they invited me to their church Bible study. Very quickly, I realized these kids had a sincere faith. It was not too long after that that we started to have our own Thursday night small group. Because we all went to small churches and none of us had an official youth pastor, we decided to lead our own Bible studies and alternate homes each week. We began to invite people from school and would sometimes have over forty high school students on any given night. We would take turns talking about what God was teaching us throughout the week and challenged each other to dig deeper into God’s Word for understanding. We were doing small groups before small groups were even cool.

The church my dad pastored was very small. The youth group consisted of me…and me. But during my sophomore year of high school, we started a kid’s club ministry held on Wednesday nights. The church was able to purchase a 15 passenger van to pick up kids from two neighboring towns. As a 16-year old, I would drive to one town to pick up as many as 25 kids. Yes, I know I was 16, and yes, the van was packed. I think the statute of limitations is up, however, so I think I am okay. Anyway, I would drop the kids off at church before driving to the next town for another 25 or so kids. My mom did the crafts and music each week, but I taught the Bible lesson before driving the kids home. Kid’s club on Wednesday nights is where I ultimately learned to teach the Word, love kids, and serve. God blessed that ministry, and a seed was planted in my heart to minister to God’s people.

As I reflect on those years in high school, I now see that it was a defining moment in my life. I had grown up in the church, and I was saved at a young age, but God took those four years and discipled me into a true follower of Jesus. Man, I am so thankful for that time in my life.

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Randy “Doc” Johnson | 
Growth Pastor

My story begins before I was born.  My parents were not raised in Christian homes.  My mom and her sister were “bus kids.”  Her parents did not take them to church but allowed them to attend on their own.  They both heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and gave their lives to Him.  My dad became a follower of Jesus Christ in his late teens when he attended a Billy Graham crusade and heard the Gospel.  A bus driver and Billy Graham are equally important in my story.

Even though my parents were not raised in a Christian home, they figured it out.  I was raised in a loving, Christ-honoring home.  We went to First Baptist Church of Hazel Park for Sunday School, the Sunday morning service, the Sunday evening service, Wednesday night prayer meeting, and as I grew older all camps and youth events.  It did not feel forced or awkward.  It was what we did.  We even had family devotions and prayer each morning before school.

There is an important side note to my story.  My aunt who was a “bus kid” with my mom, married a Christian man.  Their mom, my grandmother, later became a follower of Christ.  They were all very close.  So my mom and dad built a house right across the street from my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle built right next to them.  We had our Christian community just south of 9 Mile.

At age seven, just after morning family devotions, I prayed “asking Jesus into my heart.”  I was not baptized until I was twelve.  My parents wanted to make sure I understood that baptism did not save me and that it was to be a stepping up point telling others of my desire to follow Jesus.  When I was in high school, our church hired a new Youth Pastor, Dave Hulbert.  Pastor Dave, or Radar as we called him, became a dear friend for me.  We spent a lot of time together.  It was at this point I realized God was calling me to be a Pastor.

I hear people say they had a “drug” problem – they were “drug” to every Church event and became bitter.  I did not experience that.  I am thankful for my parents and my Church family.  I even met Angela at church.  We were high school sweethearts from Youth Group.  It does not get much better than that.

A verse that has challenged and encouraged me is 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  I hope my story will help you to daily choose to follow Jesus for yourself and your family.



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

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